Minneapolis-based Cat Pumps (www.catpumps.com) has rolled out a mid-size pump that could help carwashes clean vehicles better and faster, while keeping costs in check.
Known as the Model 1540, it offers a flow rate of 18 gallons per minute (gpm), up about 24% from predecessors of the same frame size, while costing about 25% less than larger models.
The new pump is being employed by Mark VII Equipment, Inc., a manufacturer of automated carwash systems, in a movable gantry that previously used two 14.5-gpm pumps. By employing two model 1540s, instead of the predecessors, the manufacturer says its equipment will produce 36 gpm instead of 29, thus enabling the machine to wash cars better and faster.
"Increased volume output enables us to add more (spray) nozzles and more functions," says Tom Frietsche, product manager for Mark VII Equipment. "And that allows us to wash the car more thoroughly and with less gantry passes."
Fritesche says that the company approved the Model 1540 for use on two of its carwash models, the GT500 and GT700, because prior experience showed that similar designs have offered the reliability and longevity needed in harsh, on-off-type carwash environments. "We're looking for reliability, dependability, and longevity in pumps," Frietsche says. "If the oil is changed every 500 hours, and if the pump doesn't last 10 years, we're disappointed."
Pump up the Volume: Cat Pumps' Model 1540 delivers 18 gpm at 1,200 psi, enabling it to offer a faster wash.
Cat Pumps' design, widely used across the industry, is considered to offer high reliability because it employs special lip seals, spring-reinforced low pressure seals, and concentric, solid ceramic plungers. The concentricity feature is an important one, the company insists, because it involves actually machining the part, rather than extruding it from a ceramic tube. Cat Pumps' executives claim that the design and manufacturing process ultimately result in a "true wear surface."
"If you run our pump next to other designs, you'll see wear on the bottom side of the other seals because the riding surface isn't 100% true," notes Darla Jean Thompson, marketing manager for Cat Pumps. "Our seals don't have that wear, which is why we get better seal life."
Frietsche says that his company originally employed one large pump on its gantries, then switched to dual pumps two years ago. More recently, in an effort to squeeze more capacity from the 1,200-psi pumps, Mark VII's engineers talked to pump builders about the need for a unit that could be packaged in the same space, but would deliver higher flows without sacrificing reliability. "We saw that if we had an extra five gallons per minute, we could run all the nozzles (on the gantry) simultaneously," Frietsche says. "That way, we would have the fastest machine and the best wash quality."
Cat Pumps, which claims to have a 90% market share in the carwash industry, expects the mid-size pump design to be used by other manufacturers reaching for the same performance levels. "Through the years, we've developed technology around the industry's needs," Thompson says. "This is a trend that a number of OEMs will be following."